Thursday, December 31, 2009

Read this - then read it backwards

Lost Generation by Jonathan Reed

I am part of a lost generation
and I refuse to believe that
I can change the world
I realize this may be a shock but
“Happiness comes from within.”
is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy.”
So in 30 years I will tell my children
they are not the most important thing in my life
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
is more important than
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
but this will not be true in my era
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it .

Video available at

Social Networking

I blog for the same reasons that many others do: I am looking for solutions, I have funny things to say that I want to share (sometimes funny odd, sometimes funny ha ha), or I need to vent and my family doesn't want to hear it anymore.

Like many, I do this anonymously out of fear of retribution. In my case, not because I have seen retribution at my school, but it would not be out of character for it to happen.

There are other outlets for social networking: myspace, facebook, linkedin and probably hundreds of others that I am too lame to know of.

I used MySpace for the sole purpose of connecting with an old student as I guessed (correctly) that she was there. It was worth it.

I use Facebook to connect with family and friends. The young ones (college age or younger) post the most - but I see family pictures and learn of milestones this way. I don't post much above the level of "It's a beautiful day". Again this is out of fear as a a young teacher has had her career ruined over a picture of herself with a glass of wine on Facebook.

LinkedIn I use to connect with former co-workers and to keep a foot in the business community. Unless I suddenly write a book or something, I cannot imagine posting much of anything here.

I asked a not-close-friend, more than an acquaintance, not a relative who is having difficulty in the job market to link to me in LinkedIn, figuring I have other similar contacts from people still in the business world who might be able to help. I learned that I am not considered a business friend, but a facebook friend. It was an education. On one level, I was slightly insulted. (I am not sure why, I know this person hears banjos when I talk as the South is full of those who are not quite right) On another, this is not someone I trust in my Facebook (for the reasons stated above) even though I never say anything.

Isn't it interesting how we compartmentalize our lives?

Wishing all of us a better economy, more dedicated students, distracted administrators (so they leave us alone), and witty postings! Happy 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Winter break!! A time for family.

We are heading north on the trip we were supposed to take before Christmas. Last week's storm delayed us.

See you again in time for New Year's!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I love the Internet

Tracking Santa with Norad - he's over Scotland now.

This would have been so cool when the kids were little. Oh, wait, it's just as cool when we each have a laptop tracking Santa.


My daughter and I just spent an hour reading Amazon Wish Lists for everyone we could find!! What fun. Sometimes there are 2 or three with the same name - but you can find the one you want by the books they chose.

Cheap hors d'oeuvres

SPEND/THRIFT: Recipe for new potatoes with roast beef and horseradish cream
By JIM ROMANOFF For The Associated Press
December 18, 2009 (AP)

These easy to make new potatoes with roast beef and horseradish cream cost half what frozen hors d'oeuvres do and serve nicely with a variety of sliced meat toppings.

A homemade hors d'oeuvres beats out-of-the-box frozen any day. And while your guests are sure to appreciate the personal touch, it's the savings to your entertaining budget that will have you smiling.

On average, frozen party nibbles cost between $5 and $7 per dozen. This recipe for baked new potato halves topped with roast beef and horseradish cream can be prepared in about 30 minutes for about $2.50 per dozen.

For convenience, the potatoes can be baked a few hours ahead so you can quickly reheat them and assemble the hors d'oeuvres as needed. If you like, use sliced pastrami, corned beef or even deli sliced roast turkey instead of the roast beef.



Start to finish: 35 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 60

30 very small red potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons well-drained ground horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 425 F. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil.

Place the potato halves on the baking sheets, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until well-browned on the underside and tender at the center. The potatoes can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead. Let cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish and mustard.

To assemble, reheat as many potatoes as you want to serve at one time, in the oven or microwave. Top each potato with about 1/2 teaspoon of horseradish cream and 1 teaspoon of chopped roast beef. Sprinkle with tarragon. Serve warm.

Christmas Eve - must be time to think about food!

This recipe was in the paper today:
Recipe: Ham and Cheese Strata

This make-ahead Ham and Cheese Strata can save a lot of prep time on Christmas morning.
AP Food Editor

When dreams of sugarplums have morphed into a living room floor littered with wrapping paper and toys, the last thing you want to do is pull away from the holiday fun to get breakfast on the table. A do-ahead recipe lets you have it both ways.

This easy strata is made by arranging ham and cheese sandwiches in a baking dish, then pouring a mixture of eggs, milk and cheese over them. Top everything with a bit more cheese, then put it in the oven and walk away.

The whole thing can be assembled in about 10 minutes. And even that can be done the night before. Like bread puddings and baked French toast, this strata can be assembled and refrigerated the night before. Pop it into the oven while the presents are being unwrapped.

This recipe also is particularly versatile. If ham and Cheddar aren't your thing, try cooked turkey breast and Jack cheese, cooked bacon and cream cheese or thinly sliced cooked sausages mozzarella.

Ham and Cheese Strata

Makes 8 servings
10 slices sandwich bread
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 slices deli ham
5 slices deli Cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package (8-ounce) fresh mozzarella rolled with prosciutto

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Use the bread, mustard, ham and cheese to make 5 sandwiches. Arrange the sandwiches in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. You may need to cut 1 of the sandwiches in half to get them to fit evenly. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, black pepper and Parmesan. Pour the mixture over the sandwiches, then press the bread gently with a fork to help them absorb the liquid.

4. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll of mozzarella and prosciutto into about 15 thin slices. Arrange the slices over the top of the strata. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the strata comes out clean and the strata is lightly browned at the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

It looks good.

We make pigs in blanket on Christmas morning. We do the stockings, then pigs, then open the rest of the presents.

Christmas eve is for noshing: cheese ball, veggie tray, fruit tray, and Nutcracker.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You can't scare me

I was feeling better today so I treated myself to coffee at my local coffeehouse.

I hadn't been in there very long when a group of high school boys came in, trying to impress a group of high school girls already there. Somehow, me sitting there, reading, gave them a challenge. And they decided to try to embarrass me. I finally looked up and told them I teach high school. Math.

They left me alone.

Weird Dream

Sometimes you wake up, remembering some really bizarre dream. You know, the ones that have plots and characters, and you can tell the story to anyone willing to listen, and it would take a good 20 minutes to get all of the details in.

I had one of those last night, this morning. It seemed to review a lot of past decisions (since it started with my last pre-teaching job). But what I thought was most interesting was that when it finally got to the decision I had always wondered why I didn't make at the time (getting mainframe computing experience) I heard myself say: "But I haven't told you: I teach."

There it was. The reason I cannot go back to the pre-teaching, better paid, less-stressful life. I teach.

I believe I have arrived.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This will hurt me more than it will hurt you

OK I have called all thirty of the kids who are failing my class.

Specifically, I have called their parents, spreading joy wherever I go, telling them what they need to do in order to pass.

I am sure they think I am the Grinch - I wish they could see that it is only because I care.

I because I have to be able to document that I have told the parents in a timely manner.

Merry Christmas to all!!

You can lead a student to an education

Walter Williams is one of the reasons I went into teaching. I have even written and told him so. He is a better teacher than I will ever be - I know because he "makes" me read articles about a topic I didn't enjoy as an undergraduate or graduate student.

I read this article - and despair. I do not see a solution in what he writes. He is black, an educator, well read and well thought of. If he cannot envision a solution, what hope do I have?

I build in projects into my classes which should help the students raise their grades and solidify the learning - they do not turn them in EVEN THOUGH I TELL THEM DAILY WHEN THEY ARE DUE AND WHAT IS REQUIRED.

I doubled the number failing with the last project, because they didn't turn it in.

So, to cover my fanny, I am emailing and calling to tell parents that Jhnny didn't turn it in and it is still due.

Why is this so difficult?

Monday, December 21, 2009


There is nothing that does entitled like a teenager.

One of my students is graduating at the end of this term. He is, on a good day, a jerk. He insults the students in my class, interrupts, etc. He is late to class, late from lunch, basically thinks he is a man. I have tried to explain (gently) it is difficult to be a man in high school.

He came in Thursday and wanted to know if he could take his exam the next day (they are scheduled for January). After a lot of finagling, I arranged for him to take them the first day of finals instead of the last day, when his is scheduled. (He does have a valid reason). When I got the confirmation, I emailed it to him - and he wanted to know if that meant he could take his exam a week early (no).

I know of no way to explain to these kids (without it coming back to bite me) that when they exhibit their jerkiness all semester, it doesn't mean that I will go out of my way to do more than I have to. The first day of exams is reasonable, what he wants is reasonable for someone who acted reasonable.


I finished The Time Traveler's Wife and several mugs of cider. Slept away 2 days. Finished all of the study guides for finals - now I need to work out the study guides and finals.

But I feel much better.

Had a student tell me this past week that I read more than his English teachers do - probably true.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm sick

I have a cough and a sore throat. A lot of my kids were sick that last week (thanks for sharing).

I have too much to do - like always - but I just want hot cider, a book, and bed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Student (who refuses to do any of the options I have given him to raise his grade to passing): I have more potential than any of your other students.

I told him it was too bad I graded work not potential.

We are at an impasse: I hope he realizes he will need to do the work because I am NOT grading potential.

Another - who will not do ANYTHING - told me he was lazy. That was the reason for not doing the work. Wow. That gives me an incentive to help him. Putting in a 60 or 65 to replace the missing grades - gives him a 60 or 65. 70 is passing.

I am trying to figure out how that helps anything.

Six Word Saturday

Winter break!! A time to recharge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bomb Threat

The kids have found a new use for the graphing calculators we use at school: write bomb threats on them.

A friend emailed that they found a bomb threat written on the calculator - so the dogs and cops were checking out the school this morning as the teachers arrived.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making Progress - in baby steps

One of my boys has given me grief all year long. His pants are down around his knees - but I get nothing but attitude when I say pull them up. He sleeps in class or cusses up a storm. I relish the days he is out. He tells me how much better teach Mr. Ego is "and he FAILED me!!"

I have simplified the repeater class so that they can pass.

I am not sure how this will work next semester with the state test, but I will figure it out before I get there.

Josh is passing my class. He finally realized it a week or so back. We have started playing games in this class to get them to do the work - and he is about the only one who sees the connection between playing the game and doing the math.

He stopped by to see me today just to talk. About what he wants to be. How he sees his life after high school. And I gave him a couple of ideas that we can pursue later to help him get there.

I feel connected.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Inmates are in Charge

Well the class that was out of control was pretty good today. Of course, I upped the ante and told them they had a 100 test grade for this unit. That every time they talked, I would decrease the grade by 5 points. They were angels.

A girl gave me a card with a coffee house gift certificate in it. She told me shyly that I could use it at any of the coffee houses. How sweet - she didn't realize that chains do this - but I was touched! There aren't many gifts at this school - there isn't a lot of money.

A girl - Alice - from one class attacked another girl - Betty - from another class during a class change. I wrote Alice up for profanity and passed the threats ("I;m going to beat you up and key your car") on to the AP.

Funsucker is being amiable.

Overall - a good but interesting day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can you hear me now?

One of my classes is totally OUT OF CONTROL this week. They will not stop talking. Not even when I am trying to teach. Not even when I am reviewing for the test. (Heck, not even when I was giving the test.)

I told them they were talking because they were bored so I would make sure they weren't bored, and moved the test up two days. Most did ok. The group that really talked did poorly.

I also told them today when they were quiet (when they realized they were bombing the test) that there are different means of assessing. If they could be quiet while we were teaching. If they could participate in meaningful dialogue about the topic. Then there would be no test Friday. If they talked during the lectures for the next 2 days, there would be a test on Friday. Then I asked someone to tell me what I said.

Tomorrow we will learn whether they heard me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Detroit teachers are being asked to give up money

Detroit teachers are being asked to agree to give up $500 a month in a "loan" to the city that they would "get back" when they retire.

How many of YOU believe they'd ever see the money again?

Is it just teachers being asked to give up money - I am not seeing that the mayor, the superintendent, the board are being asked to contribute.

Having said that, DPS is $218 Million in the hole - something has to give.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sick Days and control

From a column in the AJC today.
Good question posed by Christopher Johnson of Atlanta in the AJC’s Letter’s column: Why do teachers miss more work than others? Concludes Johnson: “There is no credible reason why teachers should use sick leave at the rate of 1.6 to 2.3 times that of the non-teacher workforce.” One of these days politicians do need to screw up the courage to give Johnson a rational reason — or change the system.

One of the responses gives something to think about:

Jim you want a pretend answer or a real one on teacher absences Wooten?

How many days would you miss if you were held accountable for the performance of 25-30 employees, but those employees could A) refuse to work B) not show up for work C) curse fellow employees D) curse you E) threaten fellow employees F) threaten you G) assault other employees H) assault you? And most important of all, engage in actions A-H with little to no meaningful consequences?

Yet you are told it’s all your fault when production slips, even though you have little or even no authority to enforce consequences that could address actions A-H above.

Think you might miss a day or two Jim? Think you might feel a little stress?

Deal with actions A-H above, and especially deal with the fact that they occur with little to no meaningful consequences for the students who engage in them, and then you’ll be having an honest discussion.
But we don’t want to deal with A-H, because we don’t want an honest discussion. We want to blame our teachers for how we don’t raise our children.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sticks and Stones

I don't understand teenagers.

Or I don't remember being one, which is always possible.

Two boys got into it in class Thursday. It was the usual dance: first they start insulting each other. Then they start poking around looking for THE button (your mama, your girlfriend, your virility). Finally, the punch. And away it goes. I couldn't move fast enough to deflect the initial insults and had to push the button for the administrators and police officer to break it up. These are two who will not be back for awhile, if at all.

Dang, it means I will be called for a tribunal again. (Hate those)

The only good news is they are two of the ones failing so my percentages will go up.

Happy day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Six Word Saturday

"Nutcracker" makes the season come alive!

Interesting complement

Today John came to my room, wanting me to write another letter to a judge, since my last one worked so well. I told him he would have to tell me a lot more.

"Well," he says, "I was arrested at school last year for disruptive behavior."

What did you do?

"I cussed out a teacher. I was being bad. She sent me out in the hall to cool off. I stayed out there a while and came back in and she started in on me again. And I lost it."

I asked who the teacher was - she is a good teacher and a good person. So I asked a series of questions:

· Do you realize now that she was trying to help you?
· Were you wrong?
· Was she a good teacher?
· Did you like her except for that day?

Then I told him, I will write the letter but you have to do something for me first. You have to write her a letter of apology.

"Whoa, I already apologized." [I doubt it]

Yes, but you have to write her a letter. You know: “I was wrong to say what I did. I know you were trying to help me but I let my anger get the best of me.” It doesn’t have to be much. You show me the letter before you give it to her and I will write the letter for you.

I figure he seldom accepts responsibility for his actions. He is a large boy and has anger and control issues. His size means people either write him up or banish him or accept his behavior.

We'll see if he writes his letter - or not. Either way, I win.

Monday, December 7, 2009

cuts coming but nothing in the paper

From Edweek:
Georgia schools Superintendent Kathy Cox says the schools will have a "pretty rocky couple of years" before state education funding improves.

Cox said during a meeting Friday that she expects to have to cut up to another $39 million from school funding before the fiscal year ends June 30. That would be painful for the state's 180 school districts, which have already lost millions in funding as the state grapples with the worst fiscal crisis in decades.

It could mean more layoffs, more furlough days and even larger classes.

But the local newspaper has NOTHING. Wouldn't you think this was important to know?

Heck, I wonder when our district will tell us something.

Merry Christmas!

getting to know you

I have asked my students to write one page about themselves for each of (up to 7) assignments that they are missing. My intent was to give them a chance without creating more work for me.

Two lately have told me things they don't tell many. One told me her mother basically abandoned her and told her that the mom never wanted her. Another told me she has piercings because it substitutes for cutting. (And she hasn't cut in 2 years now)

They asked me today if I had read what they wrote. I told the first one that (unfortunately) there is no test for parenting, that anyone can have a child but that doesn't make you a mom. And that she has a father who loves her.

Then the second asked if I read hers. I told her that I hoped she finds out why she wants to pierce or cut as she is a very bright and caring person (which I believe). She started crying. I hugged her and talked a while longer.

I hope they wrote what they did because they want someone to know. It doesn't fall under reportable stuff (it was obvious from the writing that DFACS has been involved).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

what the goal should be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up…
To more than I can be.

By the book

When I student taught, a teacher with a lot of experience kept lecturing me that you don't teach by the book. Indeed, she said, you shouldn't use the book at all.

That made no sense to me because every class I had ever taken had used a book, been driven by the book.

And, when I had my own classes - I kept being driven by the book.

This year, I get it.

I have Algebra students. If I taught by the book, I would miss thinking every day: what do they need, what do they know, where do I want to move them. I use the book a little. The particular book we use is written for a calculator (we don't have them) and so the numbers are what I like to call hairy. Instead of using simple numbers (y = 2x + 3) they will use interesting ones (y = x/7 + 2/9) which make it harder for kids not good in math to "get it."

In my business math class, the book is awful. It isn't well written or clear. The definitions are not well written. I rarely use it.

Funsucker thinks it is THE BOOK. Every time she teaches, she has the kids read out loud. She has them listen patiently while she works the sample problem from the book, then they can do classwork. We have worksheets that a previous teacher wrote so the kids have something to practice on, but she relies on THE BOOK.

Mr. Ego is even worse. He believes in retesting the students so they can master the material. Sounds good, doesn't it? He drives by the book: one section every day (regardless of whether the kids have mastered the material or not. His tests are the ones delivered with the books, not anything he has written. Same publisher as the algebra book, same reliance on calculators. Since the kids are seniors, some of them have them. Same hairy numbers.

He is doing his same end-of-year thing. He belittles them, threatens them, they are running out of time, etc. etc. So, the day before a test, his room is full with kids desperately trying to learn enough that they can pass.

Wednesday, there was not enough room for all of the kids, so they asked another teacher to help them. (Remember, none of us knows enough to be able to be any help at all.) She taught it, gave them ways to remember where the parts of logs go, simplified it so they could understand, really did a stellar job - and all of these kids did outstanding on Mr. Ego's test the next day.

He accused each and every one of cheating, because there is no way they could have learned it without him.

I think the other teacher is angrier at Mr. Ego than the kids are. She is insulted that he would question her ability to teach.

But he has managed to teach me something I was resistant to. The book makes a lovely help and sometimes a great roadmap. But it isn't the important part of teaching.

Six Word Saturday

Southern snow comes,leaves quickly! Joy!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Be on time or you get a letter in your permanent file

I ran across a note today from one of the first faculty meetings: We don't treat all teachers as a group, so don't punish a class because one or two students misbehave.

We had a meeting yesterday where we were all reprimanded because a couple (unspecified number) of teachers don't clock in on time.

Most (because they have been kvetching) didn;t clock in on time because they were on campus doing schoolwork and 1) didn't get to the office 2) got to the office, it was locked, they didn't get back in time or 3) one or two were late getting to campus because they had to run school errands (something for the athletic department) before school.

The meeting sounds like we are all late, fooling around, wasting time, cheating the school district.

Sure wish they would practice what they preach.

Further adventures of Funsucker

I don't like her.

I'm sorry. Is that obvious?

Today she was teaching. She did a better job than normal, involved the students in coming up with a list of items. (Normally it is her lecturing them or having them read aloud. They are Seniors,) But she couldn't control the class. The entire class was talking. She say hush, stop talking, are you ready to learn?, Shh Shhh SHhhhh.... and yet they talked.

I heard the students say: they aren't going to stop. Just teach the ones who want to learn. Can you give us the assignment so we can go ahead and do the work? And, finally, why don't you do what Ricochet does and talk real softly? It works for her.

Yes!! They noticed!!

Finally, I got up (I was grading papers - she yells at me if I offer any assistance), walked to the front of the room (she was talking), look at the class, then wrote 3 names on the board. They got quiet - instantly.

I sat down. They stayed quiet.

[I tell them writing names on the board is like a rattler's rattle. It is a warning. If I am still irritated when I get time to do a write up - and can remember what it was for, they get a write up. If they change their behavior, I will forget what it was and they don't get one.)

Love my students

I always have 2 versions of the test - I change a number or so in each problem and usually have no issue with cheating. Mostly, because I tell them I have no problem with them cheating as it will not help them.

I was going over a test today. A girl had earned a 28 and I was going over each question with her. Since I have 2 versions, I grade one version then the other. While I was going over the test, I had both of my keys in front of me. I told her I didn't know how she got the first answer. Ohm look - it;s the right answer for the other test. Oh, look, it is worked out correctly all the way through - for the other test. Oh, look, so is problem 2. . . . .

She said she got help, but it wasn't cheating. I said - copying off someone else's paper is cheating - but it obviously didn't help you. Remember, I ALWAYS have 2 versions of the test. Copy away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Diller A Dollar A Ten O'clock Scholar

A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar!
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o'clock;
Now you come at noon.

We are apparently going to get lectured tomorrow for any faculty tardies we may have. Um, isn't it a more effective management AND educational tool to address errors immediately rather than to let them become ingrained.

What I love is the fact that even if they know you are here - on time or even early every day - if you fail to sign in on time, you are late.

And they wonder why our morale is not upbeat and preppy......


Boomerang, one of my here-today-gone-tomorrow students, is back. Time is running out and I don't even want to think how many days he has missed.

I gave him the option of writing about his life as a means of explaining how is life is like a project for the class. We'll see how he does.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Being played

I like Dean Koontz. I enjoy his books - and buy them often.

I just finished Your Heart Belongs To Me. I won't spoil it but I will say he tells you all the way through the book that the subtext is important and that sometimes you have to read a book multiple times to pick up all of the subtext and dang if he didn't play me so I have to reread the book to get the subtext.

It's ok - I like the book the first time and will reread it eagerly.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Six Word Saturday

I need to empty my pockets!!

Don't get comfortable

Erma Bombeck:

I always had a dream that when I am asked to give an accounting of my life to a higher court, it will go like this:

"So empty out your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven't spread around?"

And I will answer, "I've nothing to return. I spent everything You gave me. I'm as naked as the day I was born!"

I have had a week to clean house, ignore schoolwork, reflect on things. I have watched the Last Lecture and last night watched a special on Erma Bombeck. Both Randy Pausch and Erma Bombeck reflected on their childhood dreams and how the teachers they met on their journeys encouraged them. In Erma's case, a bad teacher almost talked her out of writing. (See, Mr. Ego, you CAN affect their lives!!)

I want to be the one who raises the bar, helps you become more than you thought you can be, not the Mr. Ego or Funsucker of your life.

And that is why I blog.

"Most people don't know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life. " — Brian Andreas

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Last Lecture

Today I watched The Last Lecture - wow.

I am reading the book and today the Virginian Pilot had an interview with Jai Pausch and a link to the YouTube video.

He just set the bar and I feel the need to work to reach it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Tday

John Spencer has written a lovely post on why he is thankful he is a teacher. I came to my blog to write something, but his is better.

I love being able to talk. (No joke, I love it - and I forgive most of my student-talkers because I get it!!)

I love explaining the math and making it easier to understand. Some people just need it simplified to understand it and then move forward.

Some can't get it even then.

I even like (not love) the challenge of trying to make teaching with Funsucker work. Things are better, but I feel it is the calm before the storm.

I am not so thankful for the organizational STUFF I struggle with.

I love reading the things I have the kids write - but not enough to move away from the math. I am thinking of ways to incorporate more writing with more learning.

I love the challenge of teaching my favorite subject to people for whom it is not a favorite subject.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I want to laugh more, get angry less, be more organized and chill more.

Life is too serious to take seriously.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Banned books

When I was a teenager, my father would read books that I was not allowed to: the Ian Fleming books, The Carpetbaggers, The Day They Shook The Plum Tree. Mostly it was sex, I think, that caused my parents to ban them.

I read a lot of biographies/autobiographies/histories of the various concentration camps my senior year. Seems like that would have been a more appropriate topic to monitor.

I am now going back and reading the banned books. I think I would have quit if the parents hadn't made such a big deal about it.

I'm sure there is a lesson here.

Never put off til tomorrow what you can do today

"Never put off til tomorrow what you can do today."

That is the way I was raised. Work today, rest tomorrow.

I just got off the phone with a local college, postponing my starting work on my Master's degree. I was supposed to start in January, now I want to postpone it until September, so that I can add a certification over the summer. The economy being what it is, I need to add value before I add cost, being fully aware that the district may decide to save money by not paying for future degrees.

Thank God, they understood that.

I will write a letter today or tomorrow and mail it.

I have two letters of recommendation to write - these aren't my first, but they are my first for college. Normally mine are to judges.

PO wrote some great tips for writing recommendations. I bow to the master and will take these into account while I write the next two. Thanks, PO.

Watered down

A bazillion years ago Nestle's was in trouble for selling formula in Africa to new mothers. As I remember it, Nestle's reps convinced these new mothers that the formula was so much better, that their children would benefit more from it than mother's milk. The mothers couldn't afford to buy enough formula, so they would water it down. And their children starved.

I feel too often that I water down what I teach in order that the students find some success. If I teach it the way I was taught, with the expectations I had and the expectations I have for my own children, the students I teach give up, turn away, fail.

Even my attempts at making it relevant or fun aren't noticeably successful. But dumbing it down helps them to pass.

In the past week I have talked one former student into coming back instead of dropping out. And talked with another who moved, dropped out, won't come back and says I am in the only teacher who believed in him

I justify dumbing it down because the kids tell me I believe in them. They bring me their standardized test scores to share because they know I care.

But am I fooling myself and I am just slowly starving them?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Persuasive Essay

It has been a goal at our school that every department do 5 persuasive essays to help the students for the high school graduation test. And I have had my students doing that.

I have had two opportunities in the past month to utilize persuasive essays - apparently effectively. Unfortunately, I cannot use it as a teaching moment. At least, not on a large scale.

I have had two students have to appear in court where the outcome could have been jail. I have written letters, extolling the virtues I can find and asking that they be given another chance.

Not that I am awesome, but in each case, the student was given another chance. On an individual level, I have pointed out that my letter of recommendation was a persuasive essay and that it persuaded the judge to behave in a particular manner.

I wish I could use these as a broader example - but I will take what I can get. The individuals have seen the letters, know how I feel, and were told by the judge that the letter made a difference.

Six Word Saturday

Writing clarifies what's on your mind.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Learning about my kids

I made them write - well, only if they owe me work. This is quiz grade stuff that I am tired of trying to frag out of them. They still owe me enough math to justify this.

A page about them for each thing they owe me. And not everyone does. Some follow directions and do what they are supposed to when they are supposed to.

I learned about:
· A dead father
· A dead brother
· A dead mother
· Being sent to live with another family member because “I was bad.”
· Having to spend time away from school translating for a parent who doesn’t speak English and was in trouble
· Lots about jail time
· Being in foster care
· Stupid decisions made while in foster care that led to jail time

I may have to do more of this kind of activity - and do in next year earlier.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

O Where o where can my students be?

I got a new student this week (of course on a day I am giving a test. Hi, welcome to my class - have a test [won't count against you]). Turns out he "misbehaved" and was kicked out of another school in our district 2 months ago - which means he has probably been in juvie jail.

Another student has not returned from short term expulsion - oops, he stole a car, is in real jail. Stole the car from family, so they don't want to bail him out. I see him drifting away.

I've lost three others to either juvie jail or real jail this year. Had my fifth kid drop out this week - going to get his GED.

On the positive side, one of my problem kids got probation instead of the hoosegow so I will have him for awhile. He was going to drop out at Christmas. Don't know if that is still the plan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jeesh - where are the limits?

Daniel is a special ed student who does not want to be at school but his mother will not let him drop out. So, he disrupts every class he is in, when he bothers to come. The teachers get lambasted for writing him up, and nothing, nothing, changes his behavior.

We met on him today and learned that while he was in his culinary arts craft a month ago, he turned the garbage disposal on seconds (seconds!!!!) after the teacher had had her hand in it retrieving a fork. This is an old school and there was no safety on the garbage disposal = it could have been catastrophic. It could have been a student.

Daniel says it was an accident. The expression on his face at the time told the teacher it was no accident.

This was reported - and nothing has been done. He is still in the class. He likes the class. There was no discussion, no reprimand, no punishment. Nada.

Can you say "accident waiting to happen?"

Where should the focus be?

Curmudgeon says: "When I compare students and programs, talk with ex-students, visit colleges and speak with professors and admissions, converse with tradesmen and businessmen, I find one thing across the board. Success in college, life and careers is correlated more closely with schools that stressed facts and knowledge first and then blended in communication, information, literacy and critical thinking skills. Any school that tried to do it the other way invariably and ultimately did a disservice to its students."

I am so tired of hearing that the way I was taught was wrong, that we need to investigate the math. The kids I teach do not do well that way. They so need the facts they have never been taught or held accountable for.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

goals from above

We had a meeting yesterday where we were told that success is not perfection but is being better than average.

We are told this is to be our goal - to raise scores 2 or 3 points.

I think success is to push the envelope as much as you can to be better than you think you can be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Made a kid cry today

It's been awhile.

I was overwhelmed. When class start I do the warm up, I do the roll, I answer any questions they may have while Funsucker walks around looking important. She only does something if she is teaching - then it is straight lecture.

A student asked for a pass to the nurse and I said she could ask Funsucker to sign it. Later I had to apologize - it isn't the student that I am angry with and I wouldn't want to ask her anything either.

New member of our "tribe"

A friend who teaches English has taken and passed the math test!! Now she can teach math!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What is "normal" for team taught classes?

When you have a "team taught" class, what is the "norm?" I have had several special ed teachers teach with me and have a unique situation with Funsucker.

What I thought was the norm - what I have been held accountable for before - was
1) coming up with the rough idea of how I was planning on teaching the section
2) discuss with the special ed teacher to make sure everyone's accommodations were met
3) writing a test
4) discussing the test with the special ed teacher so accommodations could be made if necessary

I always graded everything (so I could see the overall picture) with the understanding the special ed teacher could change it if they wanted to (the district gives the special ed teacher access to the special ed students' grades - not the general ed grades. I have access to everything.)

I taught the lesson, then the special ed teacher and I would help them in groups. I have done this with several different classes and age groups.

This year, Funsucker insists she teach half. Now, this doesn't include her discussing anything with me, copying anything (somehow that is my job), grading anything. She lectures (this is low-level math - they need to work problems not listen to someone work problems) and then walks around the room socializing.

I have decided she will not review - I hate the way she teaches.

Is the expectation where you are that it is a 50-50 teaching? As in front of the room teaching?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Meadowbrook has an idea which I would like to see implemented elsewhere.

For all the talk we hear about building relationships. (Do you know if you build relationships with students they will do your work - doesn't matter if they never come to school . . . ) Instead, as a state we are doing away with technical diplomas, forcing everyone into college prep: 4 maths, 3 science . . they can't do Algebra 1 even with outstanding teachers and lessons and collaboration. Somehow they will master trig.


Six Word Saturday

Set six impossible goals before breakfast.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Things I was asked today

1) I was arrested last spring and spent some time in jail. I was put on probation. I violated the probation. I spent the night in jail in September for something else. I go to court on Wednesday - do you think they'll throw me in jail over violating parole in the spring?

2) Darn! I got written up again for having my cell phone out! Why do I keep getting written up for that?

3) [student only comes about once a week] You can't make me take the quiz - I'm not ready! You can't give me a zero!

4) We're not going to do anything important, are we? I want to help Mr. Farmer aerate the field.

5) Hope you missed me the 2 weeks I was suspended. Did I miss anything?

You will pass 90% of your students

We were given goals at the beginning of the year of 80%. 80% pass the state end of class test. 80% pass the course, etc. Today they told us - nope, 90%. If you can't pass 90% and have 90% pass the state test - you aren't doing your job. What about the 20% who don't come, don't turn things in, don't get it? Well talk to them!! Reach them!! Become their friends and they will do work for you!

Thus spake AP BrownNoser.

"I can look around the room and know who is going to fail my class! It is half of you!" said Mr. Ego - guess he didn't get the memo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Math Games

I do not think in terms of games. It isn't the way I learned or wanted to.

It is what my kids ask for.

I have asked them to come up with the games - not the problems - just they way to play the games.

They have obliged, and I will try to play.

And Funsucker sets new standards

Several of my kids, normally well behaved, had gotten really ugly about Funsucker and said things about her cheating on tests with the kids she takes off by herself. I nipped that talk in the bud, telling them they couldn't say those things, and surely they misunderstood.

She retaliated by saying that these kids cheated, which I knew wasn't so.

Funsucker refuses to follow the language of the IEPs and take some of the kids to a place for small group testing. I got tired of fighting about it (and fighting kids to go with her) so I took a group of general ed kids with me to another location (the kids left behind in MY room now have a small group).

We walked back in from a test yesterday to find two students working on the test together (it was NOT a collaborative test for anyone else) while Funsucker watched. Then she walked another student, step by step, through a problem - also not in their IEP.

Several of general ed kids asked for their tests back (loudly) so Funsucker could give them the answers too.

I need to talk with the administration about this, because Funsucker will justify it somehow. Jeez.....

Mr. Ego - slaughtering dreams in your neighborhood!

The student has decided to come back to school. I was afraid it had something to do with Mr. Ego - she had him and has never been strong in math. And, yep, he told her she couldn't pass his class and wouldn't graduate.

I think she could pass his class. Well, she could pass the normal math class - Mr. Ego isn't normal. If she isn't willing to try - and he can be intimidating if you buy into his crap - I think she should use his class as a study hall for the classes that matter - or pitch a fit (like threatening to tell the school board what he tells his classes) and get transferred for the 7 weeks remaining in this semester.

What a jerk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clean up on Aisle 3!!

I let the kids go for a break - the boys some back to tell me there are - well - things on the bathroom floor. Things that belonged in toilets, not on the floor.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And life moves on

The letter went ok - her appointment went ok and now we see what happens next.

I asked a student to rework one problem on a project (since they had gotten WAY wrong answers) and was told "F**k this class" which I wrote in the comment as "Student refuses to fix problem." Student wrote me an apology later (after being chewed out by several friends, which made me humble) and will rework the problem tomorrow.

One of my students has apparently dropped out - mom doesn't know where she is right now, I will try to talk her into finishing and graduating. Wish me luck. I will look for her at her job until I find her.

Well, it's never dull.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

need advice on writing a letter of recommendation

I need to write a letter of recommendation for a judge. Have to have it done by Monday.

I would like to give the kid a chance - even though the student keeps making STOOPID choices. Student is in trouble in the first place. Then is told by the judge to do community service (hasn't done any in a month even though 2 teachers have told him it is incredibly important to make an effort - there is always a reason).

The student was upset with the judge, saying the judge was mean. I pointed out the judge has heard it all and doesn't believe anything anyone SAYS but is looking for what they DO.

I am going to write on letter (for the student only) detailing the choices the student has made the past month (attendance, writing on a test "I don't know this crap", sleeping through a review, etc). But I'd really like to write a more positive one than that for the judge or the student is sunk.

Any help from the great universe? A sample (names withheld) would be lovely. I am used to teaching younger students and haven't had to write many.

Weird week

We had more testing this week, where all of my Juniors (half of each class) were out for state testing so I had to come up with something to do with the rest that won't penalize the Juniors - so we had a catch-up day.

Because half the students were out, because we were doing catch-up work (you know, all the stuff that they won't turn in), I had time to talk with the kids.

I learned or overheard:
· “My parents kicked me out. Then my grandparents kicked me out. Then my boyfriend dumped me and I moved back home.” She was in middle school.
· One student’s father was murdered when he was 7. His mother was in jail at the time, so he was sent to live with relatives. No one wanted to talk about the murder.
· Another lived with a stepfather who raped her from the time she was 8 until she was 10. Then she was kicked out of the house and sent to foster care.
· I have seven students with children. The oldest is 18, the youngest 16 – their children are 10 months to 2 and a half.
· Another told me I could call his parents if I want – they won’t care (and they didn’t). He is actually a good kid with lousy attendance.
· A girl told me her father said she may as well drop out – she’s too stupid to graduate.

I want to fix all of it - I knew some had burdens. Maybe it lightens it to share. I hope so.

Six Word Saturday

Students come with their own baggage.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Our Thoughts and Prayers Are In Fort Hood

Our thoughts and prayers are in Fort Hood with the soldiers and their families.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My most challenging class

My most challenging class is my repeater class. Their average age is 18. They have spent an average of 3.75 years in high school, so they should be close to graduation. The average is 11th.

Their average grade in Algebra in prior years is 43. They have taken other math classes - their average math grade in every math course they have taken in high school is 52.

I have 9th graders and seniors and everything in between.

They have all had it at least once before - several have had it 4 times.

I want them to care. I will settle for them passing - and, yes, I will have to modify the course for this to happen.

Oh, they need 22 credits to graduate. At this point, they should have at least 15 credits. The average is 8.

Administrators want statistics. How does the above tell them anything about my class other than it is challenging to teach?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Professional behavior - maybe not

Today the teacher (and I use the term loosely) that I teach with called me out in class. You know - across the room "Hey, Ricochet! Why are you handing that out when I am not done teaching?"

What I was doing was trying to help her.

She has apologized three time - each time with students sitting there, listening, where I cannot explain that her behavior was completely unprofessional.

There are no more words.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Formula for higher U.S. math scores

POD has a lovely post basically stating the same things I quoted earlier: the easy grading isn't Georgia's problem alone click here for Pissed Off Teacher.

I love mathematics. It defines things so well, follows understandable rules (sorry, English teachers, I don't think English always does.). How will today's students ever see that?

No, I must digress. The students in my school won't. They are treated like ill-behaved children, and are catered to in a way that cripples them. Other students in schools with higher standards and expectations, will not only see the beauty of math but excel.

I wish there were ways of reaching students in high and free them from the slavery they are being funneled into.

OPINION: Formula for higher U.S. math scores. October 30, 2009 By ALFRED S. POSAMENTIER by subscription to Newsday only.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Pleasant thoughts make life worth living.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Working toward goals

click here for Slutty Teachers

click here for Georgia Is An Easy Grader

Had a student ask me this week why Georgia is ranked 47 out of 50 states. Actually, that's higher than I thought we were. He asked if it was because Georgians are dumber.

My co-teacher got very quiet watching me, telling me later he was waiting to see how diplomatically I could answer this. Apparently I surprised him.

I told the student that the first thing is Georgia requires every high school graduate to take the SAT. Some don't care about college so they don't take the test seriously. In other states, only the people planning on college take the SAT so they try harder, plus it is different demographic.

In addition, I told them, there are some people who lower the expectations for the students, making a recovery policy which makes student success dependent on the teacher not the student. I said, if you are willing to accept their expectation, you will never rise as high as you will if you set the bar high.

One of my favorite movies is "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" which is the story of Gladys Aylward. Gladys was told she wasn't good enough to become a missionary, so the organization in England refuses to pay her way to China. She pays her own way to China, becomes a successful missionary and saves over 100 children from the Japanese.

She was told she wasn't good enough, but she refused to believe it. My students too often accept someone else's verdict about their life.

How to help someone see that they may be able to succeed if they would just keep working.

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Wayne Gretzky


How do you get kids to clean up their language?

I am so tired of all the $%^$@#$&* I hear every day that, while I do not want them out of my room, they are going to have to go.

The word I am most tired of is n****r and its variant n***a. I don't say these words, I don't think these words and I am completely tired of having my surroundings polluted with these words. I have told the kids I consider them to be profanity. I had one kindermensch insist it is an integral part of his vocabulary. I finally told him there are vocabularies specific to different places and that word has no place in my classroom.

He is one of my repeaters. They can indulge their vocabulary to their heart's content in detention.

Funsucker update

I met with her AP, I met with my department chair and I feel a little better. One told me she has been a thorn in the side of every teacher she has worked with and this too shall pass. The other told me to treat like an autistic student - don't push too much and giver her space.

In the meantime, I am being treated like some incompetent and feeling unorganized and overwhelmed.

She was nice all week (why not, everyone is doing it her way and, while she gets to teach, she doesn't have to do any of the crap work associated with teaching - like copying and grading. I'd like an "assistant" with my skills as well.) - I want nothing to do with her.

She has started picking on one of my favorite students. Sheila is good student, but she talks too much. Now the funsucker has started writing her up and making everything a battle royale rather than being an adult and finding a better solution. I have about half the class (the ones who do well) who cannot stand her - but she is acting as a divisive element with the class as a whole.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Need help with a quiz

A student went to court yesterday because he refused a breathalizer test one night. He wasn't drunk, hadn't been drinking but now has that on his record.

I am planning on giving a well-duh quiz - those things I know they have been told and have forgotten how they will bite you.

1) If you refuse a breathalizer request from a police officer, nothing can happen. True False (false)
2) For most jobs in Georgia, it is very difficult for your employer to fire you for cause. True False (False)

Can you help me come up with more?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

She lies.

She has now lied to the APs about me twice, that I know of.

I think they know they're lies. I don't want to get into a battle about you're lying, no you're lying, so I am almost content that my supervisor knows it's a lie and hers seems to.

This is my morning thought today.

This school has a major problem.

Either she is lying and knows it - which is a problem. Or she believes these lies and is delusional, which is a problem.

I have options, even in this economy. But what if I were a first year teacher? Or a student?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Friday I was angry. Really angry.

Yesterday I was grumpy and annoyed and bitchy.

Today I am at peace. I have a plan and a better understanding.

I am between a rock and a hard place. Two APs, with different agendas, have given me conflicting instructions. Conflicting, because they involve working with someone who refuses to work with me.

This is causing me great anxiety and frustration, neither of which I handle well.

I work well in a team. While I tend to take it over if there is a void, I am willing to let someone else be in charge. I have worked on teams or in groups my entire working life, where I had a role and everyone else did as well. Some members didn't pull their weight, but at least they understood they had a role.

My mother says that in any organization 10% do 80% of the work, 80% do 10% and the remainder do nothing. (Of course she made it up, but I quote it anyway).

I usually do my share and some. While at this school, I have always taught a course that was an orphan (as in only I taught it), but it was a part of a group, we met as a team, we had assignments, we did them. The funsucker has been a part of these groups, comes late, complains, and never contributes except after the fact. I could ignore her because it was 1 hour a week.

This year, my team consists of one teacher I work well with and never meet with except in the hall in passing or between classes, and one who has never (NEVER) been a team player, pulled her weight, shared, etc.

She isn't going to suddenly decide to talk with me. And it is impossible to do the two things I am being tasked with (meet with her and co-teach) by the two APs without her cooperation. I have been told I cannot email her, all communications must be face to face. OK. This because I asked her if she wanted to do something and her perception is I am telling her what to do. ("Would you like" is not an order.)

I am going to ask for a meeting with a third AP, the one who will be evaluating me, and ask him not to solve this (you cannot fix a problem when one person does not see that there is a problem), and not to get between the other two APs, but to understand that if he observes that class I am not following the school dictates for reasons beyond my control. He can observe that class, but at least come observe one of the others to see that there is a difference.

If this doesn't work, I figured out three other career paths I can take, two that involve staying in teaching and one that involves another route.

What is the Serenity prayer?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I can only change me and my attitude. And I am smart enough to know I cannot change the funsucker.

I am at peace.

PS POD, you are right. Venting, even it is ugly, helps lead you to viable solutions. You are a great teacher!

Life is too short for the grumpies

And I am too behind on my to-do list to care about being grumpy today- so enjoy a couple of random sites:

click here for My Life is Average

click here for Overheard in Athens [Athens being the home of the University of Georgia. Sort of says it all.]

Overheard at the school: another teacher to her students: "You will never be as smart as me. Some of you are a waste of air. I should not be asked to teach you. I am going to do everything in my power to use the rules of this school to get you out of my class." Just makes you want to spend seat time in that class, doesn't it? Not funny.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Thought I'd get a jump on it:

Don't let crazy ruin your life.

And more

I just got an email from the AP. It was no one's fault that today's meeting was missed.

I am not to tell the funsucker by email what to do or offer any suggestions by email. It is only supposed to be done in person. (OK, I have nothing to say. I can do the job alone.) I was told that if I needed to have a meeting to plan the week before the week's meeting (end of the week) we could do it before school.

I have fallen down the rabbit hole. This AP is missing that the communication issue IS THE WHOLE PROBLEM. The funsucker and I haven't planned anything since day 1.

Oh, well, Deep breathing.

"May those who love us love us. And those who don't love us-- may God turn their hearts. And if He cannot turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so that we may know them by their limping."

Left in the lurch

She stood my up during planning but acted like we were best buddies when she came to the class. We had been given a specific assignment to discuss and resolve during 3rd period planning - it didn't happen.

She asked me to stay after school. I had been looking forward to leaving on time (yes, MMT, I had already made that decision) but I am reasonable and said I'd stay. Then I watched her fritter away 15 minutes while I waited. And waited.

She came in and asked if I needed time to get organized. I told her I'd already had enough time and was she ready - she walked out and told our boss I walked out on her.

How do you fix crazy? I know you can't fix stupid.

I asked my department chair to be in on any subsequent meeting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Three of us were told we had to write 5 unit plans. Some how I have 3 of them as my responsibility. If you say you are too busy, it becomes someone else's problem.

If you decide you want to push through a strategy that hasn't worked in any class you have insisted on using it, then get the administration to add it to the workload of your fellow teachers.

You don't want to do the things that are part of your job? No problem, pitch a fit and make someone else do it.

I am drowning.

I am going to have to start working the normal hours and leaving when the day is over. Sorry kids, I will not be tutoring every day. Too much other crap has been added to my plate - all due now.

The funsucker wins

I have no idea what she wants, but she has succeeded in sucking the fun out of my class.

I cannot ask her for anything, suggest anything, the kids come last - and somehow we are equals. She is increasing my workload (with no increase on her part because she is "overwhelmed") and the kids are getting less from the class, and I do not see what she accomplishes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Invited to a meeting - not a good thing

Ms. Fullofherself has apparently gotten fed up with me and has insisted on a meeting with 2 APs and her department chair. It is probably going to be something we could have compromised on if she would just meet with me instead of continuing to try to get me to read her mind. I suck at that.

I am updating my non-meeting log and notes and will go and try really really hard to not be sarcastic. Some targets just insist on it.

My kids outdid themselves today. I had a family emergency and they were rock solid awesome!! I bought some treats for them in thanks.

I love my classes. I wish Ms. Fullofherself had any idea about being a team player.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Imagine other words and you have some of our faculty meetings. Have to love being yelled at - so inspiring.
click here for Faculty Meeting

Hulk: you are not doing what you need to in order to inspire the kids. You have to engage them! Have you stood in the hall and memorized the names and vital facts of every one coming by your room? How will you teach them if they don't think you are a friend?

Have you given them 60 for doing nothing? How will they ever pass? Have you created some totally inspiring lesson so they will put their phones down and learn the work? Have you written the notes for them? Have you? They are failing and it is. All. Your. Fault! Go teach them!! Go!!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hurray! Conference week

Next week is conference week. I have a high failure rate (the students will not turn things in, costing most about 20 easy points, will not listen to reviews or lessons - well, you know) but the parents don't care.

I have several who are trying to get their kids to drop out - yeah, that's a solution.

One dropped out last week because the teachers in this week offer no support (I have 8 tutoring sessions scheduled a week - they just have to come). He is now in jail, arrested for selling drugs 2 days after dropping out. He had a 19 for me.

These are depressing times. When I feel I make no difference. I keep telling myself, I cannot save them all. I work on the ones I can save.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What a day

A student who just dropped out because "the teachers here do not try to help him" is in jail for selling drugs.

A kid for whom I have no test grades after giving 4 tests walked out of today's test, keeping his record 100% zero.

Twelve of them pulled their phones out to text during the day. I am behind and don't want to write them up because of the grief I will get.

Ms. Fullofherself inserted herself into another class, complaining about the way that teacher was running the class - she has nothing to do with that class.

She also refuses to meet with me - allowing me to document this to her supervisor and graciously agree to accommodate her lameness. What a loser.

Another teacher - I think I called him Mr. Ego - routinely tells students they will never be as smart and marvelous as he is. Students told me today that he is retiring after this year. I think that is wishful thinking.

Looking forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lack of knowledge and effort

I reviewed for a test yesterday and watched three boys - who are failing my class - fool around the entire time. I kept trying to direct them back to what we are doing - but it didn't happen.

Today, one of them asked for help on a problem exactly like one I worked yesterday during the review. I pointed that out to him and told him that paying attention would have helped him more than the fooling around did.

He stayed for help after school. He didn't know how to round numbers or understand why you would round $123.678, even though we have discussed this at length. He kept saying it was too hard.

They need this course to graduate and will put zero effort into it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The truth shall set you free. But first it will piss you off. - Gloria Steinem

Make it fun

Joanne Jacobs: How do you get people to choose the stairs over the escalator? Make it here for Make it Fun!

This is too cool!!

OK, back to my real world. Mr. Hulk keeps chastising us to "make it fun" with classes that are too full, no money, and other teachers in the classroom who will not participate but live to suck the fun out of everything.

I discovered (through my wonderful meeting last week) a way to make one of my classes more fun with very little time, effort, and money on my part. I talked with the kids - yes, they think it will be fun as well.

So, I have spent a fair portion of this weekend pulling the material together so I can copy it tomorrow and explain it and get it going. Wish me luck on getting past the funsucker.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Administrators play weird games with us

Questions: sometimes the answer is NO.


This week we were told we did not need to do a midterm, that it was optional.

We are, instead, supposed to do an assessment, at the halfway point, which will indicated what the students have learned up to that point.

Huh? Isn't that a midterm?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

professional development


It was small, it was specific, I can see how I can use it. I had a chance to vent (as did the others) and then come together with solutions! The person in charge came by and we had a chance to talk with her about problems and solutions and long rage how-are-we-going-to-address-this.

It was like going to heaven for a couple of hours.

It is worth all of the years of crap I have endured!!


And I do not care at all if I get credits toward recertification.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My creed. I hope you will share yours!

I believe in people. I believe people will grow up to - or down to - whatever you expect of them, so set the expectations high and let them rise to the occasion.

I believe in math and love that there is one answer and a myriad of ways to get there and to illustrate the problem - which, in a way, defines my faith as well.

I believe in education, because without education we are limited as to what we can know – and with education there is no limit.

I believe in freedom because freedom to chose, to believe, to dream is what makes life worth living and this is something worth defending and dying for.

I believe in responsibility because without responsibility freedom can be toxic.

I believe in my family and in that family that I have added during my life.

I believe in my country because there is not a better place to be in the world, even when we are messing up. Because we will set it right.

I believe in God and hope he believes in me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What to do?

One student is really giving me grief: won't come to school (usually misses tests and quizzes), acting up in class, attitude, etc.

Tried to call the parent and found out she is in a group home.

This doesn't change that she needs the education = probably more than most, but I feel like a heel for expecting so much from her - and like a heel for even second guessing that.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What you'd love to tell parents some days

This is the actual answering machine message for the school: "Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1.
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work- Press 2.
To complain about what we do - Press 3.
To swear at staff members - Press 4.
To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5.
If you want us to raise your child - Press 6."
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7.
To request another teacher for the third time this year- Press 8.
To complain about bus transportation - Press 9.
To complain about school lunches - Press 0.

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!

To hear this in a language other than English, move to a country that speaks it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freshman teacher

A student asked me today when Mr. Smith quit being a freshman teacher. He has always taught a freshman science course and this year they let him teach a senior course as well. I tried explaining that we are high school teachers and it depends on what they give us to teach what grades we end up teaching. This year I have all upper classmen. The last four years I had sophomores.

We are not like second or third grade teachers.

When I realized how much trouble I was having explaining this to a student I realized why Mr. Hulk considers me to be a remedial teacher. Duh, I teach remedial students ergo I must be a remedial teacher.

If he only knew how difficult it is to teach a concept to students when the concept is outside their realm of ability. Creating a scaffold to help them takes a lot more work than working with kids who have ability and motivation.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I have decided that I don't like parts of who I am and really want to create a Creed so that I have something (like a mantra) that I can recite to remind me of who I want to be.

Auburn University has an awesome one.

I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.

I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.

I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.

I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God."

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.
-George Petrie (1945)

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's not my fault!!

Student (who spent 6 weeks incarcerated, I don't know for what) asked me what he was missing and needed to catch up on to bring his grade up "I wasn't here, but it's not like it was my fault."

Another student, complaining about my assigning a test for tomorrow, because he will be retaking a state test (for the 3rd time): "It's not my fault I won't be here."

Student, who has slept through every class for the past several weeks and is not failing. "How do I bring my grade up? It's not my fault."

Student, who finally turns something in (2 weeks after it was due) and needs it graded now so she'll be passing when she goes to court: "You need to grade this - it's not my fault."

Teacher, explaining why she is dumping her work on me after she picked it. "I'm overwhelmed. It's not my fault."

Hey, a little personal responsibility goes a long way.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This Bites

Ms. Fullofherself just emailed me back. With her family, her outside obligations, and her role in the school, she doesn't see how she'll be able to find the time to do any of the planning. But If I will write the plans, she'll be happy to edit them and make corrections.

Yeah, right, we're equals.

Love being a part of the team.

Really? I mean, really?

Just got an email from Ms. Fullofherself asking me to plan the 1st two units. (she didn't volunteer to take either of the ones I have) because she has too much on her plate. And her talent lies in editing and evaluating. (Meddling and backbiting? Second guessing?)

I told her she had to take one of the other two, that I had no interest in doing all of the work.

I wanted to say it is easy to critique someone else's work rather than doing something of your own.

As far as I can tell, she never does the work on her own, just criticizes others.

(We have to do unit plans. They came up with this idea a couple of years ago and we did the plans - then no one read them. The administration was complaining about the quality of the work we give them - well, why bother when it appears that no one does anything with it? Now we're being told to do it again - AAAARRRGGGHHHH! And she just agreed to the part she wanted WHICH WAS THE EASIEST PART 'CAUSE WE JUST TAUGHT IT!!)


I have decided that I don't care to do it on the form her chair wants - that's her problem. I will document in a log, where I can put print screens of the email (showing date and time and content).

I used to have a little statue of a man with a large screw through his middle. "Work diligently and you will be aptly rewarded." Why does it not make me happy that Mr. Hulk keeps saying we should work diligently?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another grand step backwards for Georgia

Georgia has decided to drop the bonus it promised teachers who earned National Board Certification. Every teacher who went through the ringer to earn their National Boards has had a 10% bonus. Nope, gone.

How are you supposed to do your job?

When you team teach, you are supposed to meet together at least once a week, fill out a log which goes to the SPED department chair. This isn't difficult if you have the same planning period. If not, you are supposed to get together before or after school, in addition to duties, department meetings - and, oh yes, tutoring the little darlings who will not pay attention during class.

I have been trying all year (6 weeks) to plan with one of these teachers. Now, I am aware she thinks a lot of herself. She is certified in math (most aren't) and has taught 8 years. And she has taught the subject we are teaching together.

But, it is HER department chair who wants the meetings and logs.

I kept asking, held a meeting with her department chair, and finally emailed Ms. Fullofherself requesting a meeting, and blind copied the chair - who replied to Ms. Fullofherself. There was no love there to begin with, and now that woman is impossible.

We were told we needed common assessment, in a form that will allow us to collect data(so, multiple-choice, my least favorite way of testing in math). Ms. Fullofherself tells the rest of us that she has the common assessments. Great, it means we don't have to do them. I wait. I wait. I finally email her and ask if she is going to share (ok, I was more polite but they aren;t common if only she has them). SHE DOESN'T HAVE THEM. She has chapter tests that we can change to common assessments. Big woop - so do I.

I cannot figure out what drives this woman. I thought she'd taught more than 20 years, because she has that level of rigidity. (POD, not every experienced teacher has it, you don't seem to - but you know what I mean). Turns out not to be true. I wonder what she did before.

She wants to take the kids with small group testing to the library. Does the school not realize what a liability that is for them? THE LIBRARY IS NOT A SMALL GROUP - IT IS A MAJOR DISTRACTION. But, you want to know something - I am past protecting her. Or the school.

She has earned her reputation and I just want to do mu job without her messing the kids up.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nervous tic

Teachers went to school yesterday. Mr. Hulk called a meeting - to tell us we had a meeting in 2 hours. (I thought that was what email was for)

During the meeting meeting, I was merrily ticking off his "now is the time" comments ( when the teacher next to me leaned over, pointed at the tickmarks and mouthed "now is the time?" Busted!!

He must not have been as nervous. It was only 52 this time.

I hadn't noticed before, but he malaprops. "This is a crucible time" I will definitely have to pay attention because that was too fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clarkdale Elementary

The elementary school had water to its roof. It is about 50 years old and will probably be demolished. Many of the houses in its neighborhood were flooded as well.

The slideshow above gives you an idea of one building.

What I thought was really sad/interesting was that the point was made on the tv when they showed these pictures that many of the supplies were purchased by the teachers - and lost to the flood.

Grades 3-5 will go to an intermediate school, k-2 to another elementary. Bus routes are going to get interesting.

The sun will come out tomorrow

Actually it's been out since yesterday and most of the wet has dried up. There are still sections of three (or more) counties flooded and one school is completely gone (see be a hero for Clarkdale Elementary).

Several counties have boil water restrictions which limit when students can go back, but all the interstates are open again, so things are looking up.

Back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The roads are REALLY bad

We have another day without school tomorrow.

They had trouble rescuing kids from an elementary school and high school in a nearby county yesterday ( and so it puts a lot in perspective.

I am working on data.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Schools are closed!

We haven't had a snow day or ice day in years - but the school's are closed today. We have had so much rain that roads are flooded.

Woopee! Back to bed!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mr. Ego, team teaching, following the rules

Mr. Ego continues to bury himself. He has now told his students that they should come to him and he will tell them, confidentially, why they don't want to visit the rest of us for tutoring. I guess he doesn't realize they are telling the other teachers what he says - or he thinks he can turn it into a he said, she said situation. Unfortunately, he has been asked to stop saying these things and persists, so the administration will have to get involved.

I had to meet with the admin over the special ed teachers because one of the ones I have will not meet with me and will not honor the accommodations we have for special ed students. Apparently I had a reputation with the admin for being unreasonable, because I watched her change her opinion as I talked with her. Last year, I kept trying to explain that they had given me a social studies teacher who didn't know math and kept trying to teach anyway. A really sweet woman, grandmotherly type, but she'd teach them wrong and it is almost impossible, without completely undermining her effectiveness, to reteach it correctly. And I think I succeeded in undermining her as a teacher in that class.

Did you know that (2x + 4)/3 = 2? I didn't, but that is how she taught things. I kept asking her to do administrative stuff (like the roll) or discipline and leave the teaching to me, but she kept teaching them wrong.

Now the teacher knows the material (I think - I have kids telling me she is telling them to add the checks and subtract the deposits on a check register) but will not meet with me and thinks the kids don't need to be pulled out for a test EVEN THOUGH THEIR IEP SAYS THEY HAVE TO BE because she doesn't want to walk them to her room. And I usually pull half the class so as not to single anyone out.

So now, we have to have real meetings with real agendas and documented, because she was unwilling to meet with me for 2 minutes a day and do her job.

I was told that she seems to be more interested in the curriculum than in the students. I can appreciate that, but I am not a special ed teacher and don't want to switch roles for this class.

I try to do the best for each student and differentiate, but I have a general ed position NOT the special ed one and I shouldn't have to be the one to leave my room to take kids Godknowswhere in order to fulfill their IEP.

It's going to be a long year. Thank goodness the other 2 are reasonable, decent professionals.

Friday, September 18, 2009

out of the mouths of babes

What a week.

Mr. Ego continues to dig his hole, promising the students that the rest of us cannot do the math he teaches. It;s Advanced Algebra and Trig. Wow - that really helps anyone.

I wrote two kids up for skipping. I love their reasons for not being in my class. One said "I was in the library doing work for Miss A and Mrs. B. Technically, that's not skipping." My reply: you weren't in my room, you didn't ask for permission, I had no idea where you were. Technically, that is the definition of skipping.

Two: looking at the paper I take role on. "How could you tell I was skipping if that's how you take role?" I explained I take a paper copy - then enter it in the computer where I can see whether he has checked out or was present in his other classes. "I am never cutting your class again."

Wrote up a boy for taking his phone out and texting. He said it's my fault.

Wrote another up in the same class for the same thing. Then I look up and he has it hidden in his hat and is texting again. I asked if he really thought I was that stupid. He was both the third and 4th I caught today - I finally got fed up (since they are getting worse) and wrote them up. I will now get yelled out for having too many write ups.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Jerky Colleague

One of the members in the department is telling his students that they should only go to him for tutoring as the rest of us are incompetent. I have tutored his kids before - he is very rigid in the way he teaches and only accepts certain ways of working problems.

The rest of the department is turning his kids back when they come for help and telling them they need to go see Mr. Ego.

I rather enjoy helping them (as I have in the past) and having them yell down the hall (oh, we are so subtle in my school): "I passed because of you!

Kids don't like him (because of his rigidity) - does he honestly think they won't tell teachers they like better? Not me, but there are some sweet (and competent) people in the department.

One of the joys of team teaching is teaching with someone you respect. My Buddy taught a problem in a way I wouldn't have (but got the right answer). Then I worked it - and we talked about our rationale for choosing the way we had. And that this gave them a way to check the answers. That was unplanned but fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teachers as inconsiderate as students

We have to work football games - 5 athletic events during the year, so football, wrestling, swim team, take your pick. I did the football game. One of my peers (and I use the term in lieu of others that come to mind)spent the ENTIRE time on the phone. She made major errors adding her portion of the till up and then refused to recount, leaving it to the rest of us. And she stayed on the phone. I finally had to tell her to get off the phone or leave because I couldn't count with her TALKING constantly. She left rather than say to her friend that she had something to do.

And no, it wasn't an emergency - it was planning which movie she was going to watch with the friends the next day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday or full moon?

When is the full moon?

Had one kids get up and tell another teacher to get out of my room, another throw an airplane at a boy while I'm watching, and a third start talking about his death list - which contained the names of most of the kids in my 2nd period class.

My co=teacher announced what she was teaching and what I could do (how nice of her) and has changed several of my rules without any discussion. This is going to get old fast.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dialogue with a student

Klaus came in today, completely bent out of shape and said :I am disappointed in you!" "Why?"
K: You keep writing me up for having my pants low!!
R: So - pull them up.
K: It's not the 1940s!!
R: It is the dress code.

He then preceded to say he was writing the Board of Education. Fine. I wrote the addresss on the board and said spell all the words right. He said - I'm going to write it in slang. "OK - they will ignore you. He thought for awhile.

Then he said "I have a typewriter."

Really? I was quite impressed.

Yep, I have a computer.

Oh, you have a keyboard. (I guess I am still impressed that he had ever heard of a typewriter.)

He then had the following conversation with a friend in the class:

K: I am drinking a quart of water an hour.
Other Boy: When is your court date?
K: Tomorrow.
OB: When did you last inhale?
K: Two days ago.

Methinks that isn't enough water.

the boogers strike again

They took my notebook. They did it earlier than last year, but the boogers took my binder. The one with the work all worked out. Crap. Now I have to do it again.

The class that would not pay attention when I reviewed for a quiz had to review for a test. I told them that this should be an easy math class - and I love taxes - but if they want to talk and read books instead of listening to me, I have no problem with it. But they might have a problem with their grade. (Average grade on the quiz - 60)

They actually got quiet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One ringy dingy

One of my students has been assigned 5 days suspension. I asked her why - for my phone, she says. I asked her if that was the same cell phone she'd been playing with for the past 15 minutes. (She blushed).

OK I could write her up and it would be another day or so - but why? That doesn't change her beavior or her learning.......

Another girl fight

And of course it has to happen at my door - again.

It isn't so bad that they have to cuss each other out first. I just wish they had a larger vocabulary. They seem to know one adverb - at least I think they are using the f word as an adverb.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Repeater class

I have 15 kids in a class who have been unable to pass Algebra 1 despite several attempts.

I have 3 who have passed it - in middle school - and passed geometry and algebra 2 since.

Since they passed it in Middle School, they don't have high school credit and have to retake it. I have been unable to come up with alternatives which would allow these three to succeed in a better environment. Like doing it on line. No go.

I am giving them the option of taking the chapter tests in the book at home in addition to what I do in class in order to earn better than a C. I am aiming the rest for a C.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"I'm not ready for this quiz"

Really? As a Junior, that is the appropriate thing to write on a quiz that was announced for a week?

There were two of them who wrote this.

When did this become appropriate?

Kids who don't come to school

I have 2 I haven't seen or have seen once in the past 3 weeks. It shouldn't surprise me (but it does) that I cannot reach their parents by phone. Maybe they moved and forgot to tell the school.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Students and choices

We've had a lot of kids out. Some have the flu (some are told it's swine flu), but at least two of mine are incarcerated. I noticed one has fallen off my roll and when I look at he enrollment history, he has been incarcerated some part of each of the last 4 years. I don't know what he did, but he obviously has made choices that will affect his life forever.

Another is on his second incarceration in his third year as a 9th grader.

Had a girl tell me she'll never pass because of the change in co-teachers. She is in her third year as a ninth grader as well. Her response to having a new teacher? Instead of working on a project in class it was to color advertisements for some band gig of her baby-daddy - something at least two other teachers have told her to stop doing this week.

I have three people in one class who choose to be late to class, skip - or just not come - this is for my repeater course. There is another boy in that class that I haven't even seen in 3 weeks.

And another who I have only seen once.

I will focus on the ones who come and the ones who try. But I will try to reach all of them.

Like POD has said - how do I teach them if they aren't there?

Ain't it wunderful?

I love it when you can introduce two of your friends and help one of them. (Both would be better, but that doesn't always happen).

One friend just got a job teaching at an alternative school - and I have another friend who has had a similar job for 4 years. Introducing them allows the one with experience to advise the other. And I love that!!

Especially when they are both great people who would enjoy each other under any circumstance!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yep Yep Yep

I still have 4 co-taught classes with two teachers, but they both are certified in math, and (more to the point) act like real adults with a job!! No more classroom discussions about babies and boyfriends (as in unwed mother) and tattoos led by the teacher.

The kids weren't thrilled but they'll get over it.

Loved the comment from one that now she won't pass because Ms. X isn't there to help her (do her work). Then she refused to do the project today, insisting on coloring something until I had to open the door because the sharpie was giving me a headache.

A boy came in late yesterday saying it was easy to skip with no administrators in the hall = and then was escorted into my class by the AP today (guess he found one).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

rumor mill

Rumor has it that they will rearrange classes AGAIN (we are at the end of the first month) so that the special education teachers teaching math classes will be the ones who are certified in math. Oh, pray that it is so!

I have two students in jail - hard to believe.

Today 2 skippers, yesterday 2 skippers. Something new for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ups and downs

I truly believe that once you hit 50 you become invisible. Students don't see me or hear me - and my voice carries.

Today. one of my darlings was acting like a toad. He pulled out a phone, told me it was none of my business, not my turn to talk, etc. I called his mother and told her he is bright, capable of so much. He's a senior whose grades tanked last semester so he has to get back on track - and that if he does what I ask him to do, he'll have a high grade. And this is what he did today.

She wants what I want (good behavior and good grades). Old age and treachery beat youth and ingenuity.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to the drawing board.

Today I reviewed for a test on Chapter 1. Of the ones that tried, they struggle with order of operations and inequalities and solving equations. They could read bar graphs.

Talking to the department chair, I am thinking about changing direction/focus (sort of). Still do mostly graphing and solving equations but lower my expectations and see if I can jump start an interest in math. Who knows, maybe they will then start to learn some of things they've been offered and not accepted.

Maybe graphing pictures for a while - discussing slope, intercepts, etc while they color.

I say this after a day of drama (fight, accusations, arrest) so it seems reasonable now. I was complemented for not giving up - how is that for lowered expectations?

Monday, August 31, 2009

How in the world do I reach them?

I know the 2 most important things I can teach in Algebra 1 are solving equations and graphing. But I can't even start there because their math is so low.

Today, one kid checked himself out before my class started because he's 18 and he can.

One boy said he dropped out last year and only came back because it was boring at home with everyone at school - but he's dropping out again at Christmas.

Two boys talked non-stop. Bear in mind I am preparing for a test.

One boy slept.

And another boy just copped attitude the whole hour.

The girls tried or were quiet.

I am resigned to failing 2/3 and I know that they act like this because they don't know it but I don't know how to make it simpler.